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Korean envoy thanks Filipinos’ bravery during the Korean War, MPVA hosts a ceremony in SK

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Remembering the Philippine veterans of the Korean War who arrived in Busan 70 years ago

By Monsi A. Serrano

The strong friendship between South Korea and the Philippines started when the Philippine Forces’ participation in the Korean War who arrived in Busan Korea (September 19, 1950) at the Korean War Monument to the Philippine Armed Forces in Goyang, Gyeonggi-do.

The Republic of the Philippines was the third country in the world that sent ground troops to Korea, following the United States and United Kingdom, and 7,420 Filipino soldiers served in Korea for three years from September 19, 1950, when they arrived in Busan port to May 13, 1950 and the Filipino soldiers operated including the United States 25th Infantry Division from October 1, 1950 and made great achievements in the Battle of Yultong in April 1951 and among them 112 made the ultimate sacrifice, 288 were wounded, 16 went missing in action, and 41 became prisoners of war.

Interestingly, the Filipino soldiers did not only support Korea in reconstructing itself after the war but also contributed a small number of troops to the United Nations Command to overseas the armistice.

Cognizant of the sacrifices and dedication of the Filipino soldiers, the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs led by Minister Park Sam-Duck, Charge de Affairs Christian L. De Jesus of the Philippine Embassy, Vice Admiral Stuart Campbell Mayer who represented the United Nations Command as Deputy Commander, and Goyang Mayor Lee Jae-joon, deputy commander of the ROK Army 1 Corps paid the utmost tribute to the fallen heroes.

Given the current situation brought by the pandemic, the MPVA has several programs in place to express the country’s gratitude to UN veterans of the Korean War including the Filipino veterans in light of the 70th anniversary of the Korean War.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the MPVA held the 70th anniversary of the Korean War commemoration ceremony and the UN Forces’ participation day ceremony, expressing the country’s appreciation to UN veterans, and in particular, last May the MPVA sent facial masks to the veterans in the Philippines to help them fight against COVID-19.

For the upcoming November, the MPVA plans a memorial ceremony and the music concert to coincide with the international memorial day for UN veterans (November 11).

In response, the Filipino veterans and their families have expressed special friendship between the two countries in recent interviews with the Korean Embassy and the Korean Cultural Center in the Philippines.

The MPVA said, “We plan various programs and policies to honor and remember the service and sacrifice of UN veterans of the Korean War, including Filipino veterans, and continue our shared history and legacy of the Korean War with their descendants and our future generations. 

Meanwhile, South Korean Ambassador to the Philippines Dong-man HAN, speaking to THEPHILBIZNEWS said, “This year marks 70th anniversary of the Korean war. 7,420 brave Filipino soldiers fought side by side with UN allied forces against communists. I strongly believe that today’s Korea would not be enjoying freedom, democracy and economic prosperity without the sacrifices of Filipino Korean war veterans. They deserve the title of heroes. Korean people will remember forever their dedication, devotion and contribution to defend Korea. Our future generation should learn their noble spirits and contributions. Let’s go together for our bright future based upon our solid friendship and partnership. Maraming salamat, veterans. Mabuhay!!!”

Below are the two Filipino honorees of the Korean War

Maximo Purisima Young, president of the Korean War Veterans Association in the Philippines

He said he thought it was the Korean people who made all the changes in the country where all the buildings were destroyed in the aftermath of the war. He said the proudest thing to be a veteran of the Korean War is that the Korean government now supports the education of the veterans’ children. His son, Walter Young said he is always honored to be a son of a veteran who fought for freedom and democracy of the Republic of Korea, stressing that it is exemplary commitment to the friend that the Filipino soldiers fought bravely despite the coldest winter of Korea. 

To the Korean government’s sending the facial masks to help UN veterans to cope with COVID-19, Young commented Korea now expresses the same love demonstrated by the veterans many years ago.

Isabelita Yap-Aganon, daughter of Captain Conrad D. Yap

Isabelita said when she visited Korea in 1993 with her mother, she saw her mother crying in the way to Panmunjom, although she didn’t know why back then, but understood when she visited Korea once again and felt the same way in the new War Memorial of Korea. She closed her interview saying it must have been her father’s soul in Korea. She said last year was the 70th anniversary of the Korea-Philippine relations, and wished that more Korean and Filippino people will visit each country and have more business and trade there. 

Her father, Captain Conrado D. Yap arrived in Korea on September 19, 1950 as the company leader of 10th Battalion Combat Team and was killed in action on 23 April, 1951, in a successful counterattack of the Battle of Yultong. Captain Conrado D. Yap was awarded by the MPVA as Korean War Hero of the month in April 2019.

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